Alexandre Dumas (UK: /ˈdjuːmɑː, dʊˈmɑː/, US: /duːˈmɑː/; French: [alɛksɑ̃dʁ dyma]; born Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie [dyma davi də la pajətʁi]; 24 July 1802 – 5 December 1870), also known as Alexandre Dumas père (French for 'father'), was a French writer. His works have been translated into many languages, and he is one of the most widely read French authors. Many of his historical novels of high adventure were originally published as serials, including The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by scholar Claude Schopp and published in 2005. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier.
Prolific in several genres, Dumas began his career by writing plays, which were successfully produced from the first. He also wrote numerous magazine articles and travel books; his published works totalled 100,000 pages. In the 1840s, Dumas founded the Théâtre Historique in Paris.
His father, General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie, was born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (present-day Haiti) to Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman, and Marie-Cessette Dumas, a black slave. At age 14 Thomas-Alexandre was taken by his father to France, where he was educated in a military academy and entered the military for what became an illustrious career.
Dumas' father's aristocratic rank helped young Alexandre acquire work with Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans, then as a writer, finding early success. Decades later, after the election of Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte in 1851, Dumas fell from favour and left France for Belgium, where he stayed for several years, then moved to Russia for a few years before going to Italy. In 1861, he founded and published the newspaper L'Indipendente, which supported Italian unification, before returning to Paris in 1864.
Though married, in the tradition of Frenchmen of higher social class, Dumas had numerous affairs (allegedly as many as forty). In his lifetime, he was known to have at least four illegitimate children; although twentieth-century scholars found that Dumas fathered three other children out of wedlock. He acknowledged and assisted his son, Alexandre Dumas, to become a successful novelist and playwright. They are known as Alexandre Dumas père ('father') and Alexandre Dumas fils ('son'). Among his affairs, in 1866, Dumas had one with Adah Isaacs Menken, an American actress then less than half his age and at the height of her career.
The English playwright Watts Phillips, who knew Dumas in his later life, described him as "the most generous, large-hearted being in the world. He also was the most delightfully amusing and egotistical creature on the face of the earth. His tongue was like a windmill – once set in motion, you never knew when he would stop, especially if the theme was himself."
Dumas in 1855
|Born||Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie|
24 July 1802
Villers-Cotterêts, Aisne, First French Republic
|Died||5 December 1870 (aged 68)|
Puys (near Dieppe), Seine-Maritime, Republic of France
|Literary movement||Romanticism and Historical fiction|
|Notable works||The Three Musketeers (1844)|
The Count of Monte Cristo (1844–1845)
Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (later known as Alexandre Dumas) was born in 1802 in Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne, in Picardy, France. He had two older sisters, Marie-Alexandrine (born 1794) and Louise-Alexandrine (born 1796, died 1797). Their parents were Marie-Louise Élisabeth Labouret, the daughter of an innkeeper, and Thomas-Alexandre Dumas.
Thomas-Alexandre had been born in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), the mixed-race, natural son of the marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a French nobleman and général commissaire in the artillery of the colony, and Marie-Cessette Dumas, a slave of Afro-Caribbean ancestry. At the time of Thomas-Alexandre's birth, his father was impoverished. It is not known whether his mother was born in Saint-Domingue or in Africa, nor is it known from which African people her ancestors came.
Brought as a boy to France by his father and legally freed there, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy was educated in a military school and joined the army as a young man. As an adult, Thomas-Alexandre used his mother's name, Dumas, as his surname after a break with his father. Dumas was promoted to general by the age of 31, the first soldier of Afro-Antilles origin to reach that rank in the French army. He served with distinction in the French Revolutionary Wars. He became general-in-chief of the Army of the Pyrenees, the first man of colour to reach that rank. Although a general under Bonaparte in the Italian and Egyptian campaigns, Dumas had fallen out of favour by 1800 and requested leave to return to France. On his return, his ship had to put in at Taranto in the Kingdom of Naples, where he and others were held as prisoners of war.
In 1806, when Alexandre was four years of age, his father, Thomas-Alexandre, died of cancer. His widowed mother, Marie-Louise, could not provide her son with much of an education, but Dumas read everything he could and taught himself Spanish. Although poor, the family had their father's distinguished reputation and aristocratic rank to aid the children's advancement. In 1822, after the restoration of the monarchy, the 20-year-old Alexandre Dumas moved to Paris. He acquired a position at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
While working for Louis-Philippe, Dumas began writing articles for magazines and plays for the theatre. As an adult, he used his slave grandmother's surname of Dumas, as his father had done as an adult. His first play, Henry III and His Courts, produced in 1829 when he was 27 years old, met with acclaim. The next year, his second play, Christine, was equally popular. These successes gave him sufficient income to write full-time.
In 1830, Dumas participated in the Revolution that ousted Charles X and replaced him with Dumas' former employer, the Duke of Orléans, who ruled as Louis-Philippe, the Citizen King. Until the mid-1830s, life in France remained unsettled, with sporadic riots by disgruntled Republicans and impoverished urban workers seeking change. As life slowly returned to normal, the nation began to industrialise. An improving economy combined with the end of press censorship made the times rewarding for Alexandre Dumas' literary skills.
After writing additional successful plays, Dumas switched to writing novels. Although attracted to an extravagant lifestyle and always spending more than he earned, Dumas proved to be an astute marketer. As newspapers were publishing many serial novels, in 1838, Dumas rewrote one of his plays as his first serial novel, Le Capitaine Paul. He founded a production studio, staffed with writers who turned out hundreds of stories, all subject to his personal direction, editing, and additions.
From 1839 to 1841, Dumas, with the assistance of several friends, compiled Celebrated Crimes, an eight-volume collection of essays on famous criminals and crimes from European history. He featured Beatrice Cenci, Martin Guerre, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia, as well as more recent events and criminals, including the cases of the alleged murderers Karl Ludwig Sand and Antoine François Desrues, who were executed.
Dumas collaborated with Augustin Grisier, his fencing master, in his 1840 novel, The Fencing Master. The story is written as Grisier's account of how he came to witness the events of the Decembrist revolt in Russia. The novel was eventually banned in Russia by Czar Nicholas I, and Dumas was prohibited from visiting the country until after the Czar's death. Dumas refers to Grisier with great respect in The Count of Monte Cristo, The Corsican Brothers, and in his memoirs.
Dumas depended on numerous assistants and collaborators, of whom Auguste Maquet was the best known. It was not until the late twentieth century that his role was fully understood. Dumas wrote the short novel Georges (1843), which uses ideas and plots later repeated in The Count of Monte Cristo. Maquet took Dumas to court to try to get authorial recognition and a higher rate of payment for his work. He was successful in getting more money, but not a by-line.
Dumas' novels were so popular that they were soon translated into English and other languages. His writing earned him a great deal of money, but he was frequently insolvent, as he spent lavishly on women and sumptuous living. (Scholars have found that he had a total of 40 mistresses.) In 1846, he had built a country house outside Paris at Le Port-Marly, the large Château de Monte-Cristo, with an additional building for his writing studio. It was often filled with strangers and acquaintances who stayed for lengthy visits and took advantage of his generosity. Two years later, faced with financial difficulties, he sold the entire property.
Dumas wrote in a wide variety of genres and published a total of 100,000 pages in his lifetime. He also made use of his experience, writing travel books after taking journeys, including those motivated by reasons other than pleasure. Dumas traveled to Spain, Italy, Germany, England and French Algeria. After King Louis-Philippe was ousted in a revolt, Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte was elected president. As Bonaparte disapproved of the author, Dumas fled in 1851 to Brussels, Belgium, which was also an effort to escape his creditors. About 1859, he moved to Russia, where French was the second language of the elite and his writings were enormously popular. Dumas spent two years in Russia and visited St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, Astrakhan and Tbilisi, before leaving to seek different adventures. He published travel books about Russia.
In March 1861, the kingdom of Italy was proclaimed, with Victor Emmanuel II as its king. Dumas travelled there and for the next three years participated in the movement for Italian unification. He founded and led a newspaper, Indipendente. While there, he befriended Giuseppe Garibaldi, whom he had long admired and with whom he shared a commitment to liberal republican principles as well as membership within Freemasonry. Returning to Paris in 1864, he published travel books about Italy.
Despite Dumas' aristocratic background and personal success, he had to deal with discrimination related to his mixed-race ancestry. In 1843, he wrote a short novel, Georges, that addressed some of the issues of race and the effects of colonialism. His response to a man who insulted him about his African ancestry has become famous. Dumas said:
On 1 February 1840, Dumas married actress Ida Ferrier (born Marguerite-Joséphine Ferrand) (1811–1859). He had numerous liaisons with other women and was known to have fathered at least four children by them:
About 1866, Dumas had an affair with Adah Isaacs Menken, a well-known American actress. She had performed her sensational role in Mazeppa in London. In Paris, she had a sold-out run of Les Pirates de la Savanne and was at the peak of her success.
These women were among Dumas' nearly 40 mistresses found by scholar Claude Schopp, in addition to three natural children.
At his death in December 1870, Dumas was buried at his birthplace of Villers-Cotterêts in the department of Aisne. His death was overshadowed by the Franco-Prussian War. Changing literary fashions decreased his popularity. In the late twentieth century, scholars such as Reginald Hamel and Claude Schopp have caused a critical reappraisal and new appreciation of his art, as well as finding lost works.
Researchers have continued to find Dumas works in archives, including the five-act play, The Gold Thieves, found in 2002 by the scholar Réginald Hamel in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. It was published in France in 2004 by Honoré-Champion.
Frank Wild Reed (1874–1953), the older brother of Dunedin publisher A. H. Reed, was a busy Whangarei pharmacist who never visited France, yet he amassed the greatest collection of books and manuscripts relating to Dumas outside France. It contains about 3350 volumes, including some 2000 sheets in Dumas' handwriting and dozens of French, Belgian and English first editions. This collection was donated to Auckland Libraries after his death. Reed wrote the most comprehensive bibliography of Dumas.
In 2002, for the bicentennial of Dumas' birth, French President Jacques Chirac had a ceremony honouring the author by having his ashes re-interred at the mausoleum of the Panthéon of Paris, where many French luminaries were buried. The proceedings were televised: the new coffin was draped in a blue velvet cloth and carried on a caisson flanked by four mounted Republican Guards costumed as the four Musketeers. It was transported through Paris to the Panthéon. In his speech, President Chirac said:
With you, we were D'Artagnan, Monte Cristo, or Balsamo, riding along the roads of France, touring battlefields, visiting palaces and castles—with you, we dream.
Chirac acknowledged the racism that had existed in France and said that the re-interment in the Pantheon had been a way of correcting that wrong, as Alexandre Dumas was enshrined alongside fellow great authors Victor Hugo and Émile Zola. Chirac noted that although France has produced many great writers, none has been so widely read as Dumas. His novels have been translated into nearly 100 languages. In addition, they have inspired more than 200 motion pictures.
In June 2005, Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, was published in France featuring the Battle of Trafalgar. Dumas described a fictional character killing Lord Nelson (Nelson was shot and killed by an unknown sniper). Writing and publishing the novel serially in 1869, Dumas had nearly finished it before his death. It was the third part of the Sainte-Hermine trilogy.
Claude Schopp, a Dumas scholar, noticed a letter in an archive in 1990 that led him to discover the unfinished work. It took him years to research it, edit the completed portions, and decide how to treat the unfinished part. Schopp finally wrote the final two-and-a-half chapters, based on the author's notes, to complete the story. Published by Éditions Phébus, it sold 60,000 copies, making it a best seller. Translated into English, it was released in 2006 as The Last Cavalier, and has been translated into other languages.
Schopp has since found additional material related to the Saints-Hermine saga. Schopp combined them to publish the sequel Le Salut de l'Empire in 2008.
Dumas is briefly mentioned in the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption. The inmate Heywood mispronounces Dumas' last name as "dumbass" as he files books in the prison library.
Dumas is briefly mentioned in the 2012 film Django Unchained. The Southern slaveholder Calvin Candie expressed admiration for Dumas, owning his books in his library and even naming one of his slaves D'Artagnan. He is surprised to learn from another white man that Dumas was black.
Alexandre Dumas wrote numerous stories and historical chronicles of high adventure. They included the following:
In addition, Dumas wrote many series of novels:
The Valois were the royal house of France from 1328 to 1589, so, many of Dumas romances cover their reign. Traditionally, the so-called "Valois Romances" are the three that portray the Reign of Queen Marguerite, the last of the Valois:
Dumas, however, wrote four more novels that cover this family and portray similar characters, starting with François or Francis I, his son Henry II, and Marguerite and François II, sons of Henry II and Catherine de' Medici.
The Marie Antoinette romances comprise eight novels. The unabridged versions (normally 100 chapters or more) comprise only five books (numbers 1,3,4,7 and 8); the short versions (50 chapters or less) number eight in total:
Although best known now as a novelist, Dumas first earned fame as a dramatist. His Henri III et sa cour (1829) was the first of the great Romantic historical dramas produced on the Paris stage, preceding Victor Hugo's more famous Hernani (1830). Produced at the Comédie-Française and starring the famous Mademoiselle Mars, Dumas' play was an enormous success and launched him on his career. It had fifty performances over the next year, extraordinary at the time.
Other hits followed.
Dumas wrote many plays and adapted several of his novels as dramas. In the 1840s, he founded the Théâtre Historique, located on the Boulevard du Temple in Paris. The building was used after 1852 by the Opéra National (established by Adolphe Adam in 1847). It was renamed the Théâtre Lyrique in 1851.
Dumas was a prolific writer of nonfiction. He wrote journal articles on politics and culture and books on French history.
His lengthy Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) was published posthumously in 1873. A combination of encyclopaedia and cookbook, it reflects Dumas' interests as both a gourmet and an expert cook. An abridged version (the Petit Dictionnaire de cuisine, or Small Dictionary of Cuisine) was published in 1883.
He was also known for his travel writing. These books included:
French historian Alain Decaux founded the "Société des Amis d'Alexandre Dumas" (The Society of Friends of Alexandre Dumas) in 1971. As of August 2017 its president is Claude Schopp. The purpose in creating this society was to preserve the Château de Monte-Cristo, where the society is currently located. The other objectives of the Society are to bring together fans of Dumas, to develop cultural activities of the Château de Monte-Cristo, and to collect books, manuscripts, autographs and other materials on Dumas.
Mon père était un mulâtre, mon grand-père était un nègre et mon arrière grand-père un singe. Vous voyez, Monsieur: ma famille commence où la vôtre finit.
Alexandre Dumas fils (French: [alɛksɑ̃dʁ dyma fis]; 27 July 1824 – 27 November 1895) was a French author and playwright, best known for the romantic novel La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias), published in 1848, which was adapted into Giuseppe Verdi's opera La traviata (The Fallen Woman), as well as numerous stage and film productions, usually titled Camille in English-language versions.
Dumas fils (French for 'son') was the son of Alexandre Dumas père ('father'), also a well-known playwright and author of classic works such as The Three Musketeers. Dumas fils was admitted to the Académie française (French Academy) in 1874 and awarded the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) in 1894.Aramis
René d'Herblay, alias Aramis, is a fictional character in the novels The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père. He and the other two musketeers, Athos and Porthos, are friends of the novels' protagonist, d'Artagnan.The fictional Aramis is loosely based on the historical musketeer Henri d'Aramitz.Athos (character)
Athos, Count de la Fère, is a fictional character in the novels The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père. He is a highly fictionalised version of the historical musketeer Armand de Sillègue d'Athos d'Autevielle (1615–1644).Comte de Rochefort
The Comte de Rochefort is a secondary fictional character in Alexandre Dumas' d'Artagnan Romances. He is described as approximately 40 to 45 years old in 1625 and "fair with a scar across his cheek".Dumas (film)
Dumas (original title: L'Autre Dumas) is a 2010 French film directed by Safy Nebbou about 19th-century French author Alexandre Dumas.La Dame aux Camélias
La Dame aux Camélias (literally The Lady with the Camellias, commonly known in English as Camille) is a novel by Alexandre Dumas fils, first published in 1848 and subsequently adapted by Dumas for the stage. La Dame aux Camélias premiered at the Théâtre du Vaudeville in Paris, France on February 2, 1852. The play was an instant success, and Giuseppe Verdi immediately set about putting the story to music. His work became the 1853 opera La traviata, with the female protagonist, Marguerite Gautier, renamed Violetta Valéry.
In the English-speaking world, La Dame aux Camélias became known as Camille and 16 versions have been performed at Broadway theatres alone. The title character is Marguerite Gautier, who is based on Marie Duplessis, the real-life lover of author Dumas, fils.Lycée International Alexandre-Dumas
The Lycée International Alexandre Dumas (LIAD; Arabic: ثانوية الكسندر دوما الدولية) is a French international school in Ben-Aknoun, Algiers, Algeria. It has two divisions: primaire (primary school) and collège-lycée (junior and senior high school).
A spin off of the school was inaugurated in the city of Oran on December 3, 2017.Lycée français Alexandre Dumas de Moscou
The Lycée Français Alexandre Dumas de Moscou (Russian: Французский лицей в Москве) is the French international school in Krasnoselsky District, Central Administrative Okrug, Moscow, Russia. The school serves levels preschool through terminale, the final year of senior high school.Milady de Winter
Milady de Winter, often referred to as simply Milady, is a fictional character in the novel The Three Musketeers (1844) by Alexandre Dumas, père, set in 1625 France. She is a spy for Cardinal Richelieu and is one of the dominant antagonists of the story. Her role in the first part of the book is to seduce the English Prime Minister, the Duke of Buckingham, who is also the secret lover of Queen Anne of France. Hoping to blackmail the Queen, Richelieu orders Milady to steal two diamonds from a set of matched studs given to Buckingham by the Queen, which were a gift to her from her husband, King Louis XIII. Thwarted by d'Artagnan and the other musketeers, Milady's opposition of d'Artagnan carries much of the second half of the novel.Porthos
Porthos, Baron du Vallon de Bracieux de Pierrefonds is a fictional character in the novels The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, père. He and the other two musketeers, Athos and Aramis, are friends of the novel's protagonist, d'Artagnan.The King's Daughter (1916 film)
The King's Daughter is a 1916 British silent historical film directed by Maurice Elvey and starring Gerald Ames, Janet Ross and Edward O'Neill. The film is based on a novel by Alexandre Dumas.The Prince of Thieves
The Prince of Thieves is a 1948 film nominally inspired by Alexandre Dumas' 1872 novel Le Prince des voleurs. Produced by Sam Katzman for Columbia Pictures and starring Jon Hall as Robin Hood with stuntwork by Jock Mahoney, the film was shot in the Cinecolor process that features an inability to reproduce the colour green. Sequences were shot reusing several of the sets of Columbia's The Bandit of Sherwood Forest and at Corriganville. Patricia Morison and Adele Jergens co-star.The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (French: Les Trois Mousquetaires [le tʁwa muskətɛʁ]) is a historical adventure novel written in 1844 by French author Alexandre Dumas.
Situated between 1625 and 1628, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan (based on Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan) after he leaves home to travel to Paris, to join the Musketeers of the Guard. Although d'Artagnan is not able to join this elite corps immediately, he befriends the three most formidable musketeers of the age – Athos, Porthos and Aramis, "the three inseparables," as these are called – and gets involved in affairs of the state and court.
In genre, The Three Musketeers is primarily a historical and adventure novel. However, Dumas also frequently works into the plot various injustices, abuses, and absurdities of the old regime, giving the novel an additional political aspect at a time when the debate in France between republicans and monarchists was still fierce. The story was first serialised from March to July 1844, during the July Monarchy, four years before the French Revolution of 1848 violently established the Second Republic.
The story of d'Artagnan is continued in Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later.The Three Musketeers (1959 film)
The Three Musketeers (French: Les trois mousquetaires) is a 1959 French TV film based on a play adaptation of the novel by Alexandre Dumas. It is notable for featuring Jean Paul Belmondo in the lead.
It was directed by Claude Barma and was broadcast live on Christmas Day.The Three Musketeers (musical)
The Three Musketeers is a musical with a book by William Anthony McGuire, lyrics by Clifford Grey and P. G. Wodehouse, and music by Rudolf Friml. It is based on the classic 1844 novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. Set in France and England in 1626, it recounts the adventures of a young man named d'Artagnan after he leaves home to become a Musketeer of the Guard. The three men of the title are his friends Athos, Porthos and Aramis.
The original 1928 production on Broadway, and a 1930 West End run, both starring Dennis King as d'Artagnan, were successful, but a 1984 attempt at a much-revised Broadway revival flopped.The Three Musketeers Anime
The Three Musketeers Anime (アニメ三銃士, Anime San Jūshi) is a 1987 Japanese animated television series based on the d'Artagnan Romances written by Alexandre Dumas.
A feature film sequel, The Three Musketeers Anime: Aramis' Adventure (アニメ三銃士 アラミスの冒険, Anime San Jūshi: Aramisu no Bōken), was released in 1989.The Wolf Leader
The Wolf Leader is an English translation by Alfred Allinson of Le Meneur de loups, an 1857 fantasy novel by Alexandre Dumas. Allinson's translation was first published in London by Methuen in 1904 under the title The Wolf-Leader; the first American edition, edited and somewhat cut by L. Sprague de Camp and illustrated by Mahlon Blaine, was issued under the present title by Prime Press in 1950. The text was also serialized in eight parts in the pulp magazine Weird Tales in the issues for August, 1931-March, 1932.The d'Artagnan Romances
The d'Artagnan Romances are a set of three novels by Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), telling the story of the 17th-century musketeer d'Artagnan.
Dumas based the character and attributes of d'Artagnan on captain of musketeers Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan (c. 1611–1673) and the portrayal was particularly indebted to d'Artagnan's semi-fictionalized memoirs as written up 27 years after the hero's death by Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras (published 1700).The three novels are:
The Three Musketeers, set between 1625 and 1628; first published in serial form in the magazine Le Siècle between March and July 1844. Dumas claims in the foreword to have based it on manuscripts he had discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale.
Twenty Years After, set between 1648 and 1649; serialized from January to August, 1845.
The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later, set between 1660 and 1673; serialized from October 1847 to January 1850. This vast novel has been split into three, four, or five volumes at various points.
In the three-volume edition, the novels are titled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Louise de la Vallière and The Man in the Iron Mask.
In the four-volume edition, the novels are titled The Vicomte de Bragelonne, Ten Years Later, Louise de la Vallière and The Man in the Iron Mask.
The five-volume edition generally does not give titles to the smaller portions.Five further sequels to the D'Artagnan books – the novels The Son of Porthos (1883) and D'Artagnan Kingmaker (1900), The King’s Passport (1925), D'Artagnan, the sequel to the Three Musketeers – were written and published after Dumas's death. d'Artagnan does not appear in the first novel, which, although written by Paul Mahalin, was published under the pen name "Alexandre Dumas" and is still sold as such. The second novel was supposedly based on one of Dumas' plays. The last two were written by H. Bedford-Jones. There is an additional book published by Alexandre Dumas entitled The Red Sphinx: A Sequel To The Three Musketeers.Thomas-Alexandre Dumas
Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie (French: [tɔma alɛksɑ̃dʁ dyma davi də la pajətʁi]; also known as Alexandre Dumas; 25 March 1762 – 26 February 1806) was a general in Revolutionary France and after Abram Petrovich Gannibal in Imperial Russia, was one of the highest-ranking men of African descent ever in a European army. He was the first person of color in the French military to become brigadier general, the first to become divisional general, and the first to become general-in-chief of a French army. Dumas and Toussaint Louverture (appointed a general-in-chief in 1797) were the two highest-ranking officers of sub-Saharan African descent in the Western world until 1975, when "Chappie" James achieved the equivalent rank of four-star general in the United States Air Force.
Born in Saint-Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre was the son of the Marquis Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie, a white French nobleman and Marie-Cessette Dumas, an enslaved woman of African descent. He was born into slavery because of his mother's status but was also born into nobility because of his father's. His father took the boy with him to France in 1776 and had him educated. Slavery had been illegal in metropolitan France since 1315 and thus any slave would be freed de facto by being in the country. His father helped Thomas-Alexandre enter the French military.
Dumas played a pivotal role in the French Revolutionary Wars. Entering the military as a private at age 24, Dumas rose by age 31 to command 53,000 troops as the General-in-Chief of the French Army of the Alps. Dumas's strategic victory in opening the high Alps passes enabled the French to initiate their Second Italian Campaign against the Austrian Empire. During the battles in Italy, Austrian troops nicknamed Dumas as the Schwarzer Teufel ("Black Devil," Diable Noir in French). The French—notably Napoleon—nicknamed him "the Horatius Cocles of the Tyrol" (after a hero who had saved ancient Rome) for single-handedly defeating a squadron of enemy troops at a bridge over the Eisack River in Clausen (today Klausen, or Chiusa, Italy).
Dumas served as commander of the French cavalry forces on the Expédition d’Égypte, a failed French attempt to conquer Egypt and the Levant. On the march from Alexandria to Cairo, he clashed verbally with the Expedition's supreme commander Napoleon Bonaparte, under whom he had served in the Italian campaigns. In March 1799, Dumas left Egypt on an unsound vessel, which was forced to put aground in the southern Italian Kingdom of Naples, where he was taken prisoner and thrown into a dungeon. He languished there until the spring of 1801.
Returning to France after his release, he and his wife had a son, Alexandre Dumas, who became one of France's most widely read authors of all time. Alexandre Dumas Junior's most famous characters were inspired by his father's life. The general’s grandson, Alexandre Dumas, fils, would become one of France's most celebrated playwrights of the second half of the nineteenth century. Another grandson, Henry Bauër, who was never recognized by the novelist Dumas, was a prominent left-leaning theater critic in the same period. The General's great-grandson, Gérard Bauër, son of Henry Bauër, was also an accomplished writer in the twentieth century. A great-great-grandson, Alexandre Lippmann (grandson of the playwright Dumas fils), was a two-time gold medalist in fencing at the 1908 and 1924 Olympic games (he won silver in 1920).
Alexandre Dumas père
The d'Artagnan Romances by Alexandre Dumas
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The Corsican Brothers by Alexandre Dumas